David Bowie – The Hysteria, the Sorrow, the Frustration and the Hope

A clear thinking article.

This is my article on David Bowie in Christian Today   – it is slightly amended because I wanted to tidy up a couple of things.  The article came as a result of a conversation with my wife, Annabel, as she gave me a lift down to the church.  And then all these ideas just popped into my head, so I wrote them down and quite surprizingly it has gone, as they say, ‘viral’.  There are so many ‘Bowies’ out there – who need to hear the Good News!  As always comments appreciated.

Its great that The Scotsman has put much of this on their website!

And The Herald

David Bowie’s death, grief, and the frustration of a society that has nothing to offer the lonely

It was a shock. Of course it was. Make your coffee, switch on the radio and you hear Life on Mars on Radio 4. What…

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God is fair, the economy isn’t, we can do our bit.

Mankind has established a system that breeds injustice. Wealth sucks money from the poor. Those with money enjoy luxury whilst those without struggle to survive.

God is not like that. He is just and fair. The Apostle Peter writes, “This faith was given to you because of the justice and fairness of God”. Faith is available to all, rich or poor.

God is fair. “He gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” In God’s kingdom, rich and poor are treated fairly.

God is just. In God’s kingdom rich and poor will receive the justice they deserve.

The poor will receive justice for suffering under the unfair economic system of this world. But the actions of the rich sustain that system.

It is so ingrained in our culture to maximise our income that we forget that the more we gain we gain the more someone else loses. Let’s remember.

Let’s question each financial decision to make sure it will reduce the unfairness of the system:  Does it move money from the poor to the rich, or does it help the poor?

“Looking at the man, Jesus felt genuine love for him. “There is still one thing you haven’t done,” he told him. “Go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” At this the man’s face fell, and he went away sad, for he had many possessions. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God!”

It is hard to go against the flow, but if we choose to reinforce an unfair monetary system, why should we expect to escape justice?

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A morning prayer for the wealthy

Dear Lord,

Father, Son and Holy Spirit,

Thank you for bringing me safely through another night and for the promise of a new day.
Thank you for blessing me with health, wealth and good friends, and thank you for my family.

Thank you for the blessings that I can bring to others. Forgive me please for the times when I have not acted as you would wish, and please strengthen and encourage me to carry out your will in the future. Guide my steps to places and people who I can bless, and form in my heart the desire and will to be that blessing. Let me feel joy at the good that I have been able to do in your name.

It is hard to be joyful when there is evil confronting us each day, sustained by misguided beliefs and the cold hard hearts of so many.

Yet all good things come from you and are part of you, so please help me to know you, love you and enjoy your presence. Please lift my spirit to worship and praise you, and to appreciate your gifts to me. Please be present with me every moment of the day and night, filling me with your goodness and keeping me from harm. Please protect those who I love, and heal those who are suffering in body, mind and spirit.

In this cruel and selfish world, I ask that you work in all people to draw us to love you with all our heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbour as ourselves.

Please correct the growing culture of inequality where we, your children, believe others to be less important and valuable than we are. Help us to see each human being as our brother or sister, parent or child, and to love them as such.

Father, let your spirit drench this land as the wind and rain of winter. Convince the people in this nation of your existence, bring us to see our sin, and to repentance and forgiveness. Draw us close to you.

And please mould your church to feed us with the bread of life and to help us praise you as you deserve. Please remove the barriers that we put in the way of people who would follow you, forgive our mistakes and guide our actions to properly serve you and those we live among.

I ask all this in Jesus’ name, for I believe and trust that this is your will.

Amen

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Inequality between the richest and the poorest is man-made

Inequality between the richest and the poorest is a man-made thing. Men have put it in place. Men defend it. Men can dismantle it.

A young person on a modern-day apprenticeship (learning skills that will make a day-to-day difference in our lives) earns just £3.30 an hour, £6300 a year. The starting salary for a banker (who shuffles money around whilst taking a percentage) is in the range of £35000 a year? Is that just?

Is it good that “the rich are 64% richer than before the recession, while the poor are 57% poorer”?

Where do you sit on the UK income scale?

  • If you earn less than £10000 you are in the bottom 5%
  • If you earn more than £21000 then you are in the top 50%.
  • If you earn more than £35000 (starting salary for a banker) then you are in the top 25%.
  • If you earn more than £68000 you are in the top 5%.

If it is right and just that the top 5% earn over ten times more than the lowest paid, then let’s enjoy our position.

If not, then let’s ask ourselves what we can do to make a difference.

And let’s make a new year’s resolution to start to make that difference.

References:
https://www.gov.uk/national-minimum-wage-rates
http://www.prospects.ac.uk/corporate_investment_banker_salary.htm
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/britains-divided-decade-the-rich-are-64-richer-than-before-the-recession-while-the-poor-are-57-10097038.html
https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/percentile-points-from-1-to-99-for-total-income-before-and-after-tax

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How YOU can help achieve affordable rent

Rents are too high. A single person over the age of 21 on minimum wage of £6.50 an hour will earn around £1000 a month, less deductions. Even with the lowest rent prices, half of that will go on rent leaving around £120 a week for everything else.

Here’s a painless way to get rent down. It just needs some visionary people with a little capital to decide to do something about it.

Here is an example:
£60,000 invested in a building society or bank will be doing well to make 3% interest (although a ‘help to buy’ ISA can give 4%) e.g http://www.halifax.co.uk/savings/?WT.ac=SNCA1012

Therefore a good (4%) return on that £60,000 is £2400 a year, or £200 a month.
If we are happy with a 4% return on our savings, then why not but a property and rent it out at the same return?

The cheapest (1 bedroom) property available today is £395 a month. http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-to-rent/property-56267795.html

There is a flat for sale in Rugby for £60,000. (http://www.rightmove.co.uk/property-for-sale/property-54091703.html?premiumA=true )

Using the £60,000 to buy the property, we could charge a very fair rent of (say) £250 a month, offering a low rental price and getting a very good return on the investment. (£250 instead of £200 to include an allowance for maintenance and fees)..

This represents a saving of a third on the lowest rental cost, and would give someone on low income the chance of an improved standard of living, and maybe even the chance to save enough to put down a deposit on a house of their own.

And all of this giving the same (or better) return that we get from the building society. Maybe there is a little more risk – but there is the benefit of doing something personally to help the current difficult situation for the poor in our town.

If enough of us do this, then it might even cut the overall rental market price (supply and demand!) with wider benefits.  I know that not everyone can help in this way, but some can, and it makes a difference to each person who is helped.

If you are interested and want to take it further, I’m happy to share my experience so far (I have made use of a legacy from when my mother died to do this). Please get in touch privately.

rent

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Two shirts at Christmas?

Friends on Facebook know that I often share posts highlighting injustice.  And I have written blog posts prompted by claims that ‘austerity’  is working.  But in the face of injustice, with a government that shows no sign of compassion, and with years to the next general election, doesn’t this just breed despair and helplessness: “It’s too big a problem, and what can a single human being do to change things?” So why do I speak out about injustice?

  • To grumble and whinge?  No
  • To cry out for change? Yes
  • To educate that it is indeed injustice? Yes
  • To encourage readers to ask “what can I do?” Definitely.

Many years ago a wise man said “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.”   He was speaking in a time of great injustice, under a government that brooked no dissent.  There was no changing the system, but he was calling every person to make a difference.  He was challenging the culture of the day.  That is what I hope to achieve.

I choose not to follow the culture of self-interest and greed endemic today, where we are expected to make all decisions on the basis of maximising our personal income. I try to make life decisions on what is good and right, and that includes recognising that I have “two shirts”.  I long for the wealthy to recognise the same.

But where does the strength come from to be counter-culture?  It does not come from the media, or from political leadership.  It comes from the one that the wise man served.

Do you want to make a difference?  Then begin.  Choose goodness.  Choose love.  Transfer your allegiance from the culture of selfishness to the one who is supreme goodness; the one whose birthday the world is celebrating.

Have a great Christmas!

two shirts

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Jeremy Corbyn, the wind of change?

I have just joined the Labour Party, because Jeremy Corbyn has been elected their leader.

Many people, including political commentators, seem to think that the election vote was for Corbyn’s policy preferences rather than for the person. But I am less interested in the policies than the person. He is a breath of fresh air compared with previous Labour and current Conservative leaders, who exhibited an autocratic style of leadership. If Corbyn were an autocrat then I would be worried! But I remember that early in his campaign he talked of policies being formed by the party, not one person. If that is the case, I may even become active as a Labour Party member!

I am optimistic because I don’t think that the man is an idiot. He knows that he has to create a new unity within the Labour Party. That must be a unity where each opinion is valued and where each member is expected to vote according to their conscience. That is what he has lived throughout his political career, and that is one of the reasons people have voted for him: we are tired of political puppets dancing to the tune set by their leader (or worse, the big donors to their party).

Ever since Thatcher, our nation’s leaders have told us that it is OK to be greedy; that those with high wages ‘are worth it and deserve it’. Nobody has dared suggest that the poor may not want to be poor, and that their wellbeing is more important than a thriving economy that is able to support the wages of the rich. Corbyn is prepared to put the case for the poorest in society. He does not have to pick a fight with the wealthy if they are ready to recognise that they have a responsibility as fellow human beings to do their fair share in trying to balance the nation’s books. But if they don’t listen, and if greed prevails, then protest may become necessary.

I see Corbyn’s landslide election as a catalyst for a new type of politician, with humility and integrity, who is willing to serve and represent their community. Who can say quite what will happen, but disruption of a stale and failing political system has to be a good thing. If nothing else, he has captured the imagination of the younger generation. Let’s hope that this brings the positive change that we all want.

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